Banner Photo: Hoover caught on camera, feeding at night
We have been very fortunate to be granted funds from First Light Community Foundation for trail cameras to monitor our Kaweka kiwi. On 31 August, Greg and I placed one camera near kiwi Hoover’s nest to monitor comings and goings from his burrow and any critters that might visit the site.
Hoover resides in the Three Gorges; this is the track between Middle Hill Hut and Makino Hut. It runs through some beautiful beech country and, as the name suggests, consists of some big gorges. In previous years, we were able to get Hoover’s data from the Middle Hill track but this nesting season he and his partner have moved deeper into the Three Gorges. This added an extra two hours to our trips, into steep up-and-down country, to get data readings to check nesting progress.
An early start on 21 September saw Greg, Robyn and I head off to retrieve a 10-day-old chick from the nest. Greg, who is super fit, ran ahead and got kiwis Blew and Trick’s data. Robyn and I plodded along, passing several uneaten 1080 baits which Ospri had spread on the front country during the weekend as part of a TB control programme. Hopefully, some possums will get to eat them before they’re totally dissolved.
When we caught up with Greg in the Three Gorges, he had just finished getting Hoover’s data. We texted the data to Deb as it showed Hoover had triggered the desertion alert three days previously. But more concerning was that he appeared to be in a ‘second hatch dip’.
While not ideal, and after much discussion with Deb and checking the weather forecast for later in the week, the call was made to go ahead with the nest raid but to expect a pipped egg or very young chick. As we had found his nest site on the camera trip, it didn’t take too long to get there.
Good old Hoover had done it again, we were rewarded with two chicks, a 10-day-old and a two-day- old! After the usual health check, we returned Hoover to his burrow, collected the camera and headed off with our precious cargo in two little chilly bins.
Back in town, the chicks were delivered to Sue for the next stage of their journey. The older chick, Hoover N, was fitted with a small chick transmitter before being delivered to the predator-proof crèche at Lake Opouahi near Tutira, where it will be monitored by the crèche team until it’s returned to the Kawekas at 1000g in weight.
The younger chick, Hoover O was delivered to Bev at the Save the Kiwi Westshore captive crèche where it’ll be looked after for a couple of weeks, before going to Opouahi. We would not have been able to bring this chick out without the support of Bev and her team as the chick wouldn’t survive on its own at that age. They don’t have the ability to thermo-regulate and require a heat source, which is provided by dad in the nest. Many thanks to Bev at Save the Kiwi!
A quick look at the trail camera photos revealed Hoover had left the nest on the 18th and didn’t return until late on the 19th – which would have triggered the desertion alert recorded. It’s not uncommon for kiwi to have a big night out feeding just prior to a chick hatching.
Interestingly, we could see from the pictures that the night he left the nest, he went to great effort to cover the front of the burrow with leaves, something he hadn’t done on previous nights. We are sure to learn plenty more from these cameras in the future. Thank you to First Light for making it possible.